Good NIGHTingale…

With the current situation the world has found itself in, everyone has had to make adjustments. Changes to their routine that might change their whole future. Families finding innovative ways to connect, grandparents becoming experts in video calling and our children using technology to work from home.

All the while this is happening we are all wondering how long this will last and what will become the new ‘norm.’

As dentists, we have had to completely change things in terms of our practice. We have had to shut our doors and let go of our teams. We had to cease all routine dental care and provide telephone triage.

I don’t really like to use analgesics and antibiotics as a form of treatment, but we had to change the norm to protect ourselves and our communities.

For the last few weeks I have been proud to have volunteered at the Nightingale Hospital in London to help with the fight against Covid-19, and more importantly to stand together with every type of healthcare professional.

You read about it, hear the huge achievements in building a hospital in less than two weeks only five weeks ago, and also the criticisms of not having treated many patients (which can only be good news for us all!)

The last couple of times I was here were for the Marathon Expo in 2017 with my family for the Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubillee last year and to see it converted to a 200 bed hospital with the potential to expand further. Unbelievable!

It is not like any other hospital I have worked in before. I’ve met some amazing people; scientists, students, cleaners, physiotherapists, consultants and professors but not one person gives a sense of superiority or seniority. In fact its hard to tell who’s who under all the PPE. A flat hierarchy empowering all and a wellbeing focus.

You make friends all with similar ideas, thoughts and compassion as you. Don’t get me wrong. This is no stroll in the park. It was a raw and intense framework put together in the matter of weeks but constantly evolving. The reason we were there was nothing to smile about but yet the smiles at the start of a shift match the smiles at the end, just with a less than enthiusiastic walking speed down the long corridors of the Excel.

The security guards outside telling you to have a good shift. Walking through the doors to be greeted by smiling faces of volunteers who put you at ease with a simple ‘hello’. A few weeks ago I couldn’t tell what the readings on a ventilator or a monitor meant, or how a volumetric pump worked but after a couple of 13 hour shifts with the most amazing critical care team you find yourself becoming pretty proficient, with taking blood gases, preparing drugs, turning patients and even changing bed linen.

We have now past the peak of the spread of the virus, thanks to the detemination and sacrifice of people in following the expert advice to stay at home, and the hospital will now be placed on standby, once the last of its patients leave.

I will now look forward to going back to work in the comfort of my dental practice where we chat about family, the weather and the next holiday, putting in place measures to ensure the safety of our patients and staff.

I have had a lot to learn from all this. One thing is for sure it has changed me. One way or another, I will strive to be a better person after all of this.

by Raj